The Outer Banks is a 200-mile (320-km) long string of narrow barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina and a small portion of Virginia, beginning in the southeastern corner of Virginia Beach on the east coast of the United States. They cover most of the North Carolina coastline, separating the Currituck Sound, Albemarle Sound, and Pamlico Sound from the Atlantic Ocean.
The Outer Banks is a major tourist destination and is known around the world for its temperate climate and wide expanse of open beachfront. The Cape Hatteras National Seashore has four campgrounds where visitors may camp.
First In Flight
The Wright brothers’ first flight in a controlled, powered, heavier-than-air vehicle took place on the Outer Banks on December 17, 1903, at Kill Devil Hills near the seafront town of Kitty Hawk. The Wright Brothers National Monument commemorates the historic flights, and First Flight Airport is a small, general-aviation airfield located there, close to the Buccaneer Beach Motel & Suites.
The Lost Colony
The English Roanoke Colony—where the first person of English descent, Virginia Dare, was born on American soil—vanished from Roanoke Island in 1587. The Lost Colony, written and performed to commemorate the original colonists, is the second longest running outdoor drama in the United States and its theater acts as a cultural focal point for much of the Outer Banks.
The treacherous seas off the Outer Banks and the large number of shipwrecks that have occurred there have given these seas the nickname Graveyard of the Atlantic. The Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum is located in Hatteras Village near the United States Coast Guard facility and Hatteras ferry.
As a result, the Outer Banks, though still quiet and unpopulated, is the location of a number of America’s historical milestones, and is rich with a spectrum of stories, legends, and people that helped shape the country.
The Outer Banks also treasures its history, and history buffs will find they have a world of places to explore to get acquainted with the Outer Banks’ past. An abundance of museums are scattered throughout the islands, and restored historic homes, Life Saving Stations, and even lighthouses can be found in every village.
The Outer Banks is known for its lighthouses, and a trip here would not be complete without a visit to one or more of these beloved historical structures.
The Outer Banks Conservationists (OBC) have performed much of the reconstruction and refurbishing work on the lighthouses since 1980 through private funding and volunteer work, preserving them for all to appreciate.
If you get to visit the Currituck Lighthouse on Currituck Island don’t forget to ask about the horses!
The Corolla Wild Horses
Descended from the Spanish Mustangs brought to the Outer Banks by early explorers, the Corolla Wild Horses have roamed across the Currituck Outer Banks for approximately 400 years. These horses are such a significant cultural and historic resource to our area that the Spanish Mustang was designated as the official state horse of North Carolina in 2010.
These wild horses roam freely in Corolla and are most commonly found in the four-wheel-drive areas of the beach. It is illegal to intentionally come within 50 feet of the horses, so that means no petting or feeding, but they can be appreciated from a distance on one of the wild horse tours. There are several tour companies that can get you within picture-taking distance while also giving you a great history lesson about the horses and the area itself.